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Luck of Irish may determine Redskins’ fate
The Redskins' primary need heading into Saturday's draft is the need to get lucky.
The luckier the better.
After all, hiring a Hall of Fame coach hasn't worked -- at least not yet. Spending at a record pace hasn't worked, either. Neither has bending the offseason workout rules or trading away pick after pick after pick.
Three years after Joe Gibbs' triumphal return, the team is right back where it started: coming off a 5-11 season and wondering whether things are going to get better or worse. So, yes, it would be a boon to the Redskins if the draft broke their way, inasmuch as their collective genius doesn't seem to be getting them very far.
Dream scenario No. 1 for the Snydermen: Brady Quinn becomes this year's Matt Leinart and begins to drop.
Hey, it could happen. Quinn got terrific coaching at Notre Dame from Charlie Weis, the Patriots' former play caller, but he didn't exactly light up the field in the Irish's three biggest games last season (Michigan, USC, LSU). Some general managers might feel Weis made him look better than he actually is.
That could increase the value of the Redskins' pick, sixth overall ... if Brady lasts that long and if some Quinn-crazed club (Miami? Carolina? Kansas City? Chicago?) makes them an offer they can't refuse. Gibbs certainly wouldn't mind recovering some of his lost draft choices and strengthening the roster in more than one area.
Dream scenario No. 2: LSU safety LaRon Landry is already gone by the time the Redskins draft in the first round (especially if they keep the sixth pick).
Nothing against Landry; he is, by all accounts, a fine player and righteous dude. It's just that the team drafted another safety in the first round, Sean Taylor, just three years ago. Taking LaRon that high would leave the Redskins open yet again to charges of overkill, one of the franchise's nastier habits since Snyder took over in 1999.
Think about it: In the beginning, Snyder OD'd on marquee names (Deion Sanders, Bruce Smith, etc.) More recently, he's been stocking up on pricey assistant coaches as if he's expecting a worldwide shortage. Last season he went wild on wide receivers (Antwaan Randle El and Brandon Lloyd). And now there's talk he might double up on first-round safeties.
Here's what makes me really nervous about such a possibility, though: Nobody in the last 25 years -- which is as far back as I checked -- has drafted two safeties No. 1 in such a short time. The position, quite frankly, has never been deemed important enough to warrant such attention.
So the Redskins would be bucking conventional wisdom if they ignored their other defensive needs -- pass rusher, cornerback, you name it -- and opted for Landry. And sorry, but from what I've seen, this isn't an organization that's any threat to reinvent the wheel (unless you're talking about Ferris wheel at Six Flags).
Granted, the tight end has become a major defensive headache in the new millennium, and covering him is often the job of the strong safety, Landry's presumed spot. But this is the sixth pick, not the 60th. Do you realize that in the last quarter-century, only four safeties have been drafted that early -- Eric Turner (second, Browns, 1991), Bennie Blades (third, Lions, '88), Taylor (fifth, '04) and Mark Carrier (sixth, Bears, '90)? Heck, only four others have gone as high as the top 10 (Terry Kinard, Roy Williams and, last year, Michael Huff and Donte Whitner).
Let me just point out that the Redskins spent a chunk of dough in the '90s signing the free agent safety tandem of Stanley Richard and James Washington, both of whom had started in the Super Bowl, and got little out of it. Let me also point out that when Gregg Williams coached the Tennessee defense to the Super Bowl in 1999, the unit's X Factor wasn't safeties Blaine Bishop and Marcus Washington but pass-rushing rookie Jevon Kearse.
Let me further point out that the Eagles' outstanding secondary the last few years has included just one No. 1 pick (cornerback Lito Sheppard). The Redskins already have two first-rounders, Taylor and Carlos Rogers (plus Shawn Springs, the Seahawks' top choice in '97).
Snyder and his braintrust would do well to remember this on draft day, as the names start coming off the board. Can a safety really impact their defense as much as a quarterback cruncher like Gaines Adams or Jamaal Anderson or a run-stuffer like Alan Branch?
What would really help them this weekend, though, is a little luck -- the last refuge of a tottering team. Keep your eye on Quinn. He might hold the key.
By Tammy Bruce
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